Downing Street hits back at ‘ideological’ Diane Abbott as she attacks Government police and justice shake-up

Posted On: 
12th August 2019

Downing Street has accused Diane Abbott of being “ideologically opposed” to tackling offenders as the shadow home secretary hit out at the Government’s fresh criminal justice plans.

Diane Abbott dismissed extending stop-and-search powers, criticising it for “exacerbating community relations”.
Credit: 
PA

Boris Johnson has announced £2.5billion of funding for 10,000 new prison places and gave the greenlight to police to ramp up stop-and-search powers.

But the Labour frontbencher dismissed extending the practice, criticising it for “exacerbating community relations”.

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Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, she said: “Evidence-based stop-and-search will always be a useful tool for police officers… but random stop-and-search is a tried and tested method for exacerbating community relations.

“The Labour party’s not saying we’re against evidence-based stop-and-search. What we’re saying, what history tells us, is random stop-and-search is not a way to build community relations and in the end you can only police with community consent.”

Ms Abbott also took aim at the Prime Minister’s pledge to put an extra 10,000 police officers on the streets.

She added: “Well he says this, this is a pre-election period. Even if it isn’t go ahead and have an election in autumn, he’s claiming the ground, and anybody can promise tens of thousands of police officers if you’re not saying exactly how you’re going to fund it.

“There’s been a whole series of these announcements and Boris doesn’t quite explain how he’d pay for it.”

Mr Johnson also unveiled his plan for an urgent review of sentencing policy so “the punishment must truly fit the crime” for offenders.

A senior Number 10 source attacked Ms Abbott, saying she "should spend less time thinking about prisoner rights and more time worrying about how the system now lets out serial rapists to do the same thing again".

They added: "On stop and search, the Labour Party with Dianne Abbott as Shadow Home Secretary is ideologically opposed to giving the police more powers and a clear roadblock to getting knives off the street as stop and search does."

VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE

Speaking on Monday the senior Labour MP also refused to say when her party will call a vote of no confidence, saying: “It’s above my pay grade to say…but it has to be an option.”

But told it must happen soon as the Brexit deadline draws closer, Ms Abbott added: “Yes it does, but one of the things we have to do is consult with other parties.

"There’s no good moving a vote of no confidence if the Lib Dems for instance are not going to vote for it.

“We are talking to all of the other parties in Parliament and if we move for a vote of no confidence we want to do it with confidence that we can win it.”